Sunday, 30 March 2014

Pencil Skirt/Tunic Dress Tutorial

So this is my first ever sewing tutorial, and as you may already know, I'm still quite a novice so you may have to cut me some slack! I made this dress using one I already own and love. I love the fact it uses two different fabrics, one plain colour jersey, and a cotton print. Although I have no idea what to call it. Is it a shift dress, a pencil skirt dress, a tunic dress? Who knows.

I bought the mustard yellow jersey for an absolute steal (£2 a metre) due to it being bleached by the sun. I was thinking about what to do with it when I had a bit of a brainwave and thought of making this dress with two contrasting colours and fabrics.

Heres what you need:

And of course, a sewing machine, pins and some dressmaking shears.
So, after you've done what you always *ahem* do before starting a project, washed and pressed your fabric, it's time to cut out the pattern pieces.

For the pencil skirt half, use a skirt you already own as a template, you may want to add some extra length at the top, as the skirt will sit high on the waist although there is also a waistband. Use the jersey fabric, ensuring that the stretch is width ways. Fold the fabric to cut 2 pieces at the same time, and add a seam allowance (I used 1/2")

 For the top, as I based the pattern on an existing dress I used this as a template, but you could draft out your own. It's basically a rectangle shape with slightly sloping shoulders and slightly curved armholes. Using the cotton print fabric, add seam allowances all around and cut 2.

Cut out a round neckline, a deeper one for the front piece than the back. Each top piece should be 4 or 5" wider than your skirt including both seam allowances.
We'll work with the top part to begin with. Cut 2 1"strips of fabric on the bias from the same fabric to use as bias binding.

Pin one strip to the front piece, right sides together and sew around the neckline at the 1/2" marking on the sewing machine. Fold the strip over and press into place, then sew around the neckline once more close to the inside strip edge. Do the same on the back piece.

For the armholes I found as they were relatively straight I was able to fold them over to the inside by 1/2", press and then stitch down, close to the raw edge. Do this for each armhole on each top piece, 4 times.

Lastly place the two pieces together right sides together, and pin. Stitch the two together at the shoulder and side seams. Finish the seams by pinking, or serging. Set the top aside.

Pin the two skirt pieces, right sides together and stitch the side seams. Fold over the hem and stitch in place.

Draft out a waistband from the jersey, 2 pieces around 4" in length and the same width as the top of the skirt. Stitch them together at the side seams, making sure they will match up with the skirt seams. Press the seams open. Place the waistband around the outside of the skirt with right sides together, lining up the raw edges at the top, and stitch together with a 1/2" allowance. Trim some of the bulk and press upwards.

Now all that's left is to attach the two sections. Cut a piece of elastic that is the same length around as the waistband of the skirt and measure the half way point with a pin. Turn the top inside out and sew the elastic to the edge with a straight stitch at the 3/8" mark, stretching it to fit the width of the top. Use the halfway point pin to help ensure the elastic is evenly stretched. Now the top should be gathered at the bottom.

 Place the pencil skirt, the right way out, in through the bottom of the top, still inside out. So right sides will be together, and align the raw edges. Pin in place, and sew together by sewing on top of the elastic again, this time without stretching, with a zigzag stitch.

And there you have it, you should have a cute pencil skirt/tunic shift dress.... thing.

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